Target, Market, Repeat

Use a marketing process to reach your customers instead of a one-time event, and watch the biz roll in.

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By Al Lautenslager

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What two things do the following quotes have in common?

"I did a mailing once and never got any business."

"I sent a press release once and never got published in the newspaper."

"I attended a chamber of commerce meeting once and never got any business from it."

The first common element is that these are actual quotes I've heard--numerous times--from business owners, entrepreneurs and independent business professionals. The second thing is they all contain the word "once." Doing something once is an event. Doing it over and over again is a process. The reason those entrepreneurs made the statements above is because they viewed marketing as an event. But marketing isn't an event--it's a process, something you'll need to do over and over again if you want to achieve results.

Direct marketing guru Dan Kennedy is a famed proponent of the use of sequential mailings. His recommendation, one that has been proven over and over, is that a series of three mailings that have crafted messages with irresistible offers will attract potential customers. Other experts say it takes six to eight times of "touching" a prospect before they get in purchase-readiness mode--one that puts you at the forefront of their awareness so when it comes time for them to want or need your product, they immediately think of you.

Let me explain how it works. Many times, I'll show up at a networking event and hear this from the people I meet: "I see you everywhere." What these people mean isn't that they literally see me everywhere, but that they hear about my networking events, they see our company's name in the paper as a result of a press release, they see an ad for a seminar I'm presenting on direct marketing or guerrilla marketing, or they've received a postcard or letter from me.

If you add these efforts up, I've most likely touched a prospect at least four or five times before they start recognizing my name. They think they see me everywhere because I put my marketing messages where my target market happens to be, and I do this over and over--creating a true marketing process.

Do I get business when I hear that my prospects have seen me everywhere? Not necessarily, but it provides confirmation that my marketing efforts are working, it's one more touch my prospects will remember, and when it comes time for that person to want or need my services, they're going to think of that person or company they "see everywhere."

Don't get discouraged if the response you get from one of your marketing initiatives is lower than you expected. Do it again--your response rate will go up. And plan your marketing efforts so there's this sense of repetitiveness.

Jay Conrad Levinson, co-author with me of Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days, told me one time that 90 percent of all marketing decisions are made with a customer's subconscious mind. And the way to approach and get into this subconscious mind is through repetition. This has been proven by both researchers and practitioners. I've certainly experienced it in my own direct mail program and when I network.

And it all goes back to Direct Sales 101. There you learn that it takes a minimum of six times of contacting a prospect before they're ready to purchase. You'll also learn that most salespeople stop after just three contacts. Look at the gap of potential business represented there.

Marketing works the same way. I've literally gotten business from prospects who have contacted me after many, many months of sending them mailings, and they tell me, "You've been mailing something to me every month for the past year. It's time we do business together." This never would have happened if I'd stopped my mailings at three.

So take my advice: Plan out your marketing efforts, keep the idea of repetitiveness in mind, put your activities on a calendar, and measure the increased activity you're sure to see results from as you work through your marketing process.

Al Lautenslager

Author, Speaker, and Consultant

Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing expert, bestselling author, highly sought-after speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur. He is the principal of Market For Profits, a Midwestern-based marketing consulting firm; former president and owner of The Ink Well, a direct marketing, printing, and a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach.

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